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BOULDER, CO-Noodles & Co., based in Boulder, marks its fifth anniversary by opening its 15th restaurant in an aggressive plan to launch a new store every two weeks, says the store founder.

“We’re on schedule to open 24 to 26 new stores in the next 12 months,” Aaron Kennedy, president and founder of the privately held company, told GlobeSt.com. Its latest store is a 2,200-sf, 52-seat store in south Boulder. Noodles & Co.’s October schedule calls for openings in Highlands Ranch in Douglas County, the largest master-planned community in the Denver area, and Ft. Collins, north of Boulder. The aggressive opening program also calls for stores in Wheaton and Naperville in DuPage County, Ill., west of Chicago.

The company is in its fourth stage of financing. The former brand manager for Pepsi started the noodle restaurant – where freshly prepared Asian food costs about $5 per meal – with $250,000 in seed money from friends and family. “I came up with the idea while eating in an Asian noodles restaurant in Greenwich Village in New York City,” he told GlobeSt.com. “I had an epiphany.”The first restaurant was in Cherry Creek North, a tony boutique area about three miles from Denver’s Central Business District. “We are light years away from our humble beginnings,” he says.

One of the chain’s smallest restaurants in north Boulder averages sales of $1,000 per sf, says Kennedy, although a typical one will bring an average of $500 per sf. Most restaurants average about $1 million a year in sales, he says.

Kennedy likes to open restaurants next to Starbucks, Chipotle (a Denver-based burrito “wrap” restaurant now owned by McDonalds Corp.), Jamba Juice and Caribou Café. “At this point, we are a viable and expandable concept,” Kennedy says. “We want to be a global leader across the US and beyond. To do that, we need the resources provided by a larger company with a national distribution and national real estate program. Like Chipotle and McDonalds, we see ourselves joining with a large partner. We’ve already gotten a few nibbles.”

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